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FACT CHECK: No sale of travel cards for ‘free subway rides’ – DOTr


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FACT CHECK: No sale of travel cards for ‘free subway rides’ – DOTr
The transportation department denies affiliations with 'suspicious social media accounts’ selling ‘12-month free subway ride cards’ for P168

Claim:  The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its attached agency Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) are selling travel cards offering 12⁠ months⁠ of free subway rides for P168.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: Several versions of the false claim have been posted on a newly-created Facebook page, “Manila Metro,” which uses the official LRTA logo. One version of the post has received 276 combined reactions, 208 comments, and 63 shares as of writing.

The page features an image of the beep card, the stored value reloadable transport cards used by metro train commuters, which was deliberately altered to include the text “12-month free subway rides” along with a receipt showing the price of P168.

Suspicious dummy accounts, which seem to be from foreigners, flooded the posts’ comment sections with testimonials after allegedly receiving the card. The author of the post even replied to one Facebook user, saying that the free travel card promotion is a partnership with the LRTA, with the support of the city government.

The post claims the promo was launched due to “price increases for Metro Manila travel cards.” It also included an “apply now” button that links to an unverified website. 

The facts:  In separate public advisories released on January 26, the official Facebook pages of DOTr,  LRTA, DOTr-Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3), and beep card brand owner AF Payments Inc. (AFPI) collectively denied the claim in the misleading posts. 

The DOTr said the “Manila Metro” page is posing as an official channel of the transportation department, and cautioned the public against engaging with dubious social media pages.

“The DOTr advises the public to exercise caution when engaging with suspicious social media accounts misrepresenting as official government agencies. The DOTr and AFPI have NOT AUTHORIZED any sales of any ‘12 Month Free Subway Rides Card,’” the agency said.

Assistant Secretary for Railways and MRT-3 Officer-in-Charge Jorjette B. Aquino warned of possible fraudulent transactions arising from the supposed promo.

“The DOTr, DOTr-MRT3, and the LRTA never request credit card details in any of their interactions with the public. We urge commuters to verify all online information through the official websites and social media channels of DOTr, DOTr-MRT-3, and LRTA, as there may be malicious parties with fraudulent intentions attempting to deceive the public,” Aquino said.

AFPI also said that it is investigating the false online scheme.

Metro Manila Subway Project: While the misleading promo advertised “free subway rides,” the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) is yet to be completed. 

Construction of the country’s first-ever underground mass transport system started on February 27, 2019. As of July 2023, the DOTr said it aims to complete the project by 2029. 

The MMSP will have 17 stations and will also connect to the MRT, LRT, and Philippine National Railway lines. Once completed, the DOTr said the MMSP will reduce travel time between Valenzuela City and Ninoy Aquino International Airport from 70 minutes to just 41 minutes, providing service to 519,000 passengers a day.

Official accounts: For official updates on DOTr’s services and projects, refer to its official website, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and YouTube accounts. – Larry Chavez/Rappler.com

Larry Chavez is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program.

This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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